JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Racism claim against local high school doesn’t add up, media rushes to judgment

Nov 16, 2022, 6:08 PM
racism claim...
(Photo courtesy of Lakes High School's social media)
(Photo courtesy of Lakes High School's social media)

Coaches, students, and parents claim Lakes High School football players were taunted with racial slurs from the Stanwood student section and players during a recent game. But there’s no evidence this occurred. In fact, some key claims are being disputed. And a video of the game, obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, does not indicate any racial slurs being used.

Lakes coach Kory Eggenberger alleged Stanwood students were “aggressive” with the use of the n-word during the Nov. 4 game. The slurs started during warm-ups and persisted throughout the game.

For the students or coaches to have heard the slurs on the field or from the visitor’s bench, Stanwood student fans would have had to shout it loudly enough to get past a track and field row, loud cheerleaders, and the Stanwood football team benches. It would have to be especially loud for it to reach any parents seated in the visitor stands behind the Lakes bench.

“On more than five occasions, we had players coming to the sideline enraged from the racist remarks they were hearing from Stanwood players. Our Coaching Staff informed the Referees of this language multiple times, but nothing was done to stop it. As a result, our KIDS were subjected to these taunts for the remainder of the game,” Eggenberger wrote on Facebook.

Referee says no one told him about racist taunts

But head referee Steve Jensen said neither he nor his team of referees heard the n-word used once. He also says neither the coaches nor players ever reported anything to them. And there are refs positioned on both sidelines.

“No coach ever came to me or any of my crew members during the game or after the game and indicated any issues,” Jensen explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Jensen said had he heard anything, there is a protocol to address the issue.

“I would have done our protocol and stopped the game immediately and brought both head coaches out and brought the administrators out and discuss what I’ve heard, then go from there,” Jensen explained.

The referee said he first heard about the allegations in news reports the Monday after the game. Eggenberger did not respond to an interview request.

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Unusual substitutions?

Lakes football coach Dave Miller told the Tacoma News Tribune that the Stanwood student section was “yelling the n-word at our players.” He even alleges it was happening on the field.

“During the game, it was happening a lot on the field,” the coach of more than two decades continued. “We had to calm down a lot of my players that were having a hard time maintaining their composure because they’re not used to hearing that. It’s sad that in 2022, we still have people who want to judge people by the color of their skin.”

Miller also claimed that he had to “pull players out of the game on multiple occasions to calm them down because of the racist language,” according to the Tacoma News Tribune. But Jensen said he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary regarding the frequency of the substitutions.

“I don’t know how they sub. I didn’t notice anything different or not normal than a normal high school football game of subbing patterns,” Jensen explained.

Miller did not respond to an interview request.

Media published allegations as facts

Media outlets rushed their coverage: they have a story that feeds their preferred narrative that this country is steeped in white supremacy culture. Journalists reported allegations uncritically, choosing not to fact-check many of the claims. They merely regurgitated them and cast judgment.

The Everett Herald published the headline, “Visiting football team endures racial slurs at Stanwood football game.” There were no qualifiers in the headline. They say it happened as a fact.

Tacoma News Tribune’s left-wing columnist wrote that readers shouldn’t be shocked that this occurred.

“Still, the situation is more than an isolated incident, which is what’s particularly troubling. This was no one-off; instead, it was a repeat performance of hatred we’ve seen too many times before,” he wrote.

If this story is true, these journalists got lucky. The sick part is, they are hoping they got lucky.

There’s no recording?

Driscoll pointed to an incident where Capital High School fans taunted an opposing player as a “gorilla” in Thurston County. But that incident was recorded.

So far, no one has produced any recording of students shouting the n-word throughout the game to players from the student section. This was a high school football game with teens in the crowd. No one was able to capture any video of the incident?

Further, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH reviewed video of the game filmed by Twin Cities Sports Network and recorded from inside the broadcast booth. While you can hear cheerleaders and some crowd noise, the n-word was not picked up at any point during the broadcast.

At the end of the game, both teams lined up to shake hands after the game. It was orderly, with no player acting as if they had just been tormented with the n-word for the entire game. They could have held their anger back, but they also could have acted that way because the allegations weren’t true.

“I wish they [reporters] would have done more homework before an article would have gone out. Maybe fact-checking with different people, instead of just writing the article from hearing from one person,” Jensen explained.

Some scenarios

Coaches and students said the racial slurs occurred consistently and it was reported to the referees. The head referee says he and his team were never told.

To hear the n-word on the field or on the sideline from the student section would mean the students responsible would have had to shout it very loudly, given how far away the students are from the field and the opposing team’s benches. The only known publicly available video does not substantiate claims of racial taunting.

There’s been no evidence presented yet that even hints that the claims by Lakes coaches and students are true.

Is it possible that a student used a racial slur, maybe even more than once? Yes. Racism exists, even if it’s not as rampant or systemic as Driscoll and other left-wing journalists claim. I certainly believe this could have occurred.

Could the refs be lying? I suppose. But why would they?

Could there be an honest misunderstanding and the story got out of hand? Of course. People could be spreading half-truths or misunderstandings in good faith.

Could the students, coaches, and parents making the claims be lying? Yes. The alleged slurs leveled against Duke players by the Brigham Young University fans were a hoax.

This story isn’t adding up

The story, as reported and alleged, isn’t adding up yet.

It seems hard to believe that there were persistent racial slurs throughout the game, yet not captured on video. And the claim that it was reported to referees several times, when the head ref said neither he nor his team were informed, is very fishy.

The school district is currently investigating. They should. If what is alleged actually happened, we should see the proof and punish those involved. Racist incidents do occur and there are many people who don’t take them as seriously as they should.

But if this didn’t happen — or if there’s no proof — we must amplify the results and explore the hoax. The people responsible should be outed, and there should be consequences.

As necessary, we must shame the bad-faith media members that pushed the claim without any proof to the detriment of the Stanwood students and referees, and to the detriment of a community journalists seemed eager to smear. Apologies would be in order, though we shouldn’t hold our breaths. What seems likely, sans evidence, is that the district media outlets or investigators will simply say just because they can’t prove it happened, doesn’t mean it didn’t.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Racism claim against local high school doesn’t add up, media rushes to judgment